Now the weather is improving, the husband has re-started his Thursday nights of bike'n'beer....this is a weekly exercise session involving twenty five minutes hard cycling through the woods (he never gets lost), followed by three hours of drinking in the local hostelries.
I must say, he always looks the part when he leaves home in the fading sunlight. Wrapped head to toe in Lycra and all the other necessary (questionable) paraphernalia, he resembles a rather stubby black pudding lit up like the Blackpool Illuminations. He's rather self conscious of his Lycra-clad appearance though, so tends to wear baggy shorts over the bottom half, as do the other chaps in his posse. I suppose there comes a time in most men's lives when a little mystery is not a bad thing.
So I met him and his cycling buddies, Mr B and Mr H, as I was on my way home on Thursday evening, having spent the last hour semi-naked in the company of a rather handsome 30 year old man ( more on this another day perhaps...). They were at the foot of the steep hill which I was coming down, steeling their manly thighs for some serious muscle burn.
Looking at the three of them, I was reminded that there is really no difference between a boy of ten or a man of fifty three where bikes are concerned. All of them were really excited about the prospect of muddy hills and soggy puddles, and the only difference between man and boy was that instead of a foil wrapped curly sandwich in the back pocket, each had beer money.
There have been the odd occasions when the beer has far outweighed the exercise. I remember one particular Thursday night/Friday morning when the husband crawled through the front door at about 1.00 in the morning (on a school night too). He came up the stairs on all fours, shedding Lycra all the way, before sweeping the duvet off the bed and throwing himself onto the mattress with a relieved grunt. He had a very interesting aroma about him. The countryside's beautiful evening smells, coupled with Guinness and a whiff of salt and vinegar. Lovely.
In the morning, when I got up, the damage from the night before was more obvious. His shoes had been left very neatly by the front door, but the stairs resembled Halfords Bike Shop after a break in. Lycra shorts, baggy shorts, cycling top, two socks, a helmet (its lights still managing to flash intermittently), a jacket and two gloves (one on the bottom step, one on the landing) littered the stairs, decorated with flakes of dried out mud which he had shed whilst stripping off.
Peeling back the duvet on the still sleeping Barry Wiggins, I was appalled to discover that the mud hadn't fully been brushed off in the stripping frenzy on the stairs. His face looked like someone who had been painting the ceiling with an overloaded paint roller (but with brown paint) and his knees (exposed between shorts and socks) were covered in mud, a lot of which had made it onto my cotton bed linen, meaning that we had slept like a couple of hippos in a mud bath all night.
Was I cross? Did I have a go at him? Of course not....I think the banging headache and the hour spent hugging the loo that morning were more than enough punishment....